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December 20, 2014

Mark Edwards: Vanderbilt boys know how to throw a baseball

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Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2014 8:29 pm | Updated: 8:39 pm, Sat Jun 28, 2014.

It's exciting to see Vanderbilt join the championship parade from the Southeastern Conference by clinching the national baseball title recently.

In a sense, this is a real shocker. Vanderbilt, typically the league doormat in so many sports, won its first men's national championship by beating Virginia 3-2 in the final game of the title series.

Then again, if we're surprised at Vanderbilt's victory, maybe it's because we haven't paying attention.

Maybe the biggest surprise is that Vanderbilt didn't win a national championship until now -- as unfair as that may sound.

The Commodores practically are pouring pitchers into the major leagues. The most visible, of course, is Tampa Bay's David Price, who won the American League Cy Young in 2012. But he is one of five former Vanderbilt stars who have pitched in the majors this year.

By comparison, only 10 former Vanderbilt stars pitched in a major league game before these five guys made the cut.

Mike Minor, a bright young starter for Atlanta, is a Vanderbilt guy. So is Sonny Gray, a second-year guy for Oakland who ranks eighth in the American League in ERA.

Josh Zeid has spent parts of the last two seasons in Houston's bullpen. Nick Christiani has worked a few innings for Cincinnati, as he tries to gain a firm spot in the Reds' relief rotation.

Caleb Cotham (Yankees), Grayson Garvin (Rays), Mark Lamm (Braves), Navery Moore (Braves), Sam Selman (Royals), Drew VerHagen (Tigers), Kevin Ziomek (Tigers), Casey Weathers (Rays) and Drew Hayes (Reds) are pitching in the minor leagues, waiting for their shot. Four more pitchers were drafted this month, as they soon will join the chase to make the majors.

Vanderbilt has won the SEC regular-season title three times in the last eight years, but the school's only College World Series appearance before this year was 2011, when the Commodores placed third. They lost in the Super Regional round in 2010 and 2013.

No matter where they've finished, pitching has led the way.

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